The recent news that the UK is seeking to ban menthol cigarettes and rolling tobacco by May 2020 and that the US has banned most flavoured vaping cartridges represents a significant problem for smokers. As further regulations are imposed on both traditional tobacco and alternative smoking appliances, smokers are increasingly being guided by government regulations to quit cold turkey. Is there a future for the smoking industry?

The UK Government’s ban on menthol cigarettes and skinny cigarettes is yet another legislation that seeks to curb/reduce the consumption of tobacco, as part of a larger plan to ban flavoured cigarettes. This is the biggest legislation imposed since the 2017 ban on ten-pack cigarettes and is in line with the European Union’s directive that seeks a similar ban on menthol cigarettes.

Meanwhile, the US Government has sought to curb alternative smoking products, primarily vaping consumption. The current administration announced a ban on most flavoured vaping cartridges, with manufacturers such as Juul set to be hit the most as it accounts for the majority of sales. This was brought on by the vaping scandals that erupted out of the country in 2019, including the news that young teens were taking up vaping and the vaping-related illnesses that caused 54 deaths and 2,506 hospital admissions.

Nevertheless, the future is not all doom and gloom for the smoking industry. Heat-not-burn technology has been gaining traction recently, becoming FDA approved in April 2019. By heating the tobacco instead of combustion, it produces less tar and therefore consumers receive fewer carcinogens than standard cigarettes. Moreover, the recent regulations feature many loopholes than can be exploited by tobacco and vape companies alike.

The ban on menthol cigarettes and tobacco in the UK is already being curtailed by Imperial Tobacco’s Rizla brand, who has released menthol strips to put into the tobacco – it is marketed as an accessory and therefore falls within the law. Likewise, the ban in the US only covers prefilled pods. Refillable flavour pods are still allowed and in fact a cheaper alternative to pre-filled pods. In the end, whilst further governmental regulations across the globe seek to discourage the consumption of tobacco and vape related products, alternatives through innovation and the exploitation of loopholes by manufacturers will ensure that these industries can still operate, albeit in a more restricted way.

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